No, no, we really don’t want to do this

Companies and banks that fail to prevent financial crime by their staff could face vast fines and be blacklisted from European contracts under a change to the Bribery Act being considered by the Government.

A proposed amendment put forward by David Green, head of the Serious Fraud Office, would give Britain’s fraud-busting agency wider powers to take direct action against corporates, enabling it to levy US-style fines and brand them with the stigma of abetting bribery.

We absolutely do not want a bureaucracy to be the investigator, prosecutor and collector of the fines.

Perfectly happy with the idea that more might be done to counter bribery. Entirely happy with the idea that there might be more prosecutions. But it has to go to court: and the money from fines must not, cannot, go to the SFO. It must become general revenue for the Treasury.

You’ve only got to look at what’s happening in the US with drug money confiscations to see that we really do not want any law enforcement agency building its budget out of the confiscations from those it accuses.

No, this is an extraordinarily bad idea.

8 thoughts on “No, no, we really don’t want to do this”

  1. Okay. Point taken. But the utterly offensive paragraph bears no relation to the rest of the text of the article and, of course, the text of the proposed amendment isn’t available.

    What the rest of the article is actually proposing is that companies should be prosecutable (and it doesn’t mention directly levying fines once you get past para 2 of 20) for failing to prevent bribery if the “controlling mind” of the company is ignorant of the event. The key quote:

    At the moment it is an offence for a corporate to fail to prevent bribery by its employees with a statutory defence of adequate procedures. I have proposed expanding that to a corporate failing to prevent acts of financial crime by its employees.

    That isn’t, prima facie, a bad idea. Or even unreasonable. It might be considered inappropriate after detailed discussion of the pros and cons (and the impact on other areas of the law) and it could certainly be put in to law in a wholly inept way or, even with good law, be abused. But it is a very different idea to the one you were, totally reasonably, condemning.

    I’d really want to see the proposed changes.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    Liberal Britain is dead. The very idea of a liberal society is alien to our rulers. Of course people should be punished for things they did not do, did not order and knew nothing about. But no, of course, for actual real crimes. Pathetic.

    In other news, Britain takes one step towards sanity – an acknowledgement that donated lungs from smokers are actually better for you than from non-smokers:

    Non-smokers performed relatively poorly in the short term with 77.7 per cent of transplant patients surviving one year compared to 90.8 per cent with smokers’ lungs. There was no significant difference in the overall effectiveness of the lungs, time spent in intensive care and in hospital.

    (Although strangely almost half donated lungs come from smokers – are they old or just much nicer people than non-smokers?)

    And then Britain takes another step backward:

    Women who harm their unborn babies by drinking alcohol during pregnancy could be found guilty of a criminal offence, it has been revealed.

    So you can take a chemical designed to kill a foetus and that is not a crime. You can stick a sharp metal object into its skull and suck its brains out. That is not a crime. You can botch both and that is not a crime. But if you drink a perfectly legal substance, it is a crime to cause harm to a non-person?

  3. SMFS>

    “(Although strangely almost half donated lungs come from smokers – are they old or just much nicer people than non-smokers?)”

    Or is it that smokers still make up nearly half the population, despite anti-smokers’ claims that they are a small minority?

  4. Fascinating stuff about smokers’ lungs. Makes you wonder if the problem with transplants is rejection by the host or rejection by the transplanted organ.

  5. Since bribery necessarily a governement official somewhere, would it be that the polticians in charge will be made examples of as well?

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Dave – “Or is it that smokers still make up nearly half the population, despite anti-smokers’ claims that they are a small minority?”

    As a non-smoker, I think I am going with smokers just being much nicer people. Most non-smokers I meet are deeply unpleasant self righteous little sh!ts.

    But it would depend on how they defined a smoker. Perhaps few of us are smokers right now, but half of us have been over the course of a life time?

    bloke in france – “Fascinating stuff about smokers’ lungs. Makes you wonder if the problem with transplants is rejection by the host or rejection by the transplanted organ.”

    So smoking is a bit like chemotherapy in that it depresses the immune system of the donor and so makes the organs less likely to reject their new host? Could be come to think of it.

    Smokers really are the gift that keeps on giving.

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